Hess designs in Australia

Zygote, with Meryl and me as crew, arrived in Thursday Island (on the NE corner of Australia) in mid-February 2006, after a 4,000 mile voyage from our home in Penang, Malaysia.

We’re currently berthed in Cairns, Australia. Cairns is a big tourist destination for people wanting to see the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforests.

The reason for this post is not to talk about yet further proof of the BCC28 as the ultimate short-handed ocean voyager. Instead I want to tell yet another marina story (see my post ‘Five years after’ for an earlier marina story):

The setting was a Sunday morning. I was still in my bunk, considering the options for the day before reluctantly adopting verticality. I became aware, through the portlights, of a pair of legs standing on the pontoon beside Zygote.

The legs stood beside Zygote for a long time.

I started thinking about why someone was spending 15+ minutes scrutinizing Zygote. The usual thoughts, about what regulation I had infracted now, ran through my head (Australia is an extrememly bureaucratic and rule-bound/rule-enforcing nation. The marina’s list of rules and regs is daunting: eg no diving on your hull, no hull or propellor cleaning, no operating of wind generators, etc).

I went above … and met a guy who immediately asked me if Zygote were a Lyle Hess design.

He had worked building a carvel-planked Hess 32 in timber at the Wooden Boat Centre in Tasmania. Seems the Wooden Boat Centre (anyone can sign up to do a Certificate in Traditional Wooden Boat Building at the WBC for $A12,000 - see http://www.woodenboatcentre.com and note the British English spelling of Centre) has built at least three Hess 32s, using Blue Gum (a eucalypt timber) for the keel and frames and Huon Pine, Celery Top, and Teak for other structures.

The WBC will accept commissions for further Hess 32s (my informant wasn’t able to discuss prices etc - and students learn by their work on the boats). The WBC has launched a Hess 32 roughly every 2 years (2000, 2002, 2004) recently. The most recently launched Hess 32 is called Zuline and is home ported in Melbourne, Australia.

My informant wasn’t familiar with BCC28s. But he suggested there also was one wooden Hess 25 (possibly also built at the WBC) in Australian waters. (I’m aware there are a few Hess designs in New Zealand).

We’re aiming to sail south down the eastern Australian coast, aiming for Brisbane (where Tom and Jill currently have their BCC28, Galatea). But we might enjoy Cairns and northern Queensland for a few more months.